Eleven former Transportation Secretaries and current Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter to Congress urging it to look past passing stop-gap highway measures to adopt a long-term program.
Foxx unveiled the letter during a July 21 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
The secretaries’ letter said that while Congress is expected to pass temporary funding, it “will not ‘fix’ America’s transportation system. For that, we need a much larger and longer-term investment.”
In the last five years Congress has passed 27 short-term measures and it has been more than a decade since the last six-year funding bill, they noted. “This is no way to run a railroad, fill a pothole, or repair a bridge. In fact, the unpredictability about when, or if, funding will come has caused states to delay or cancel projects altogether.”
The letter pointed out that by 2050, the United States is expected to add 100 million people and will need to move 14 billion additional tons of freight, which is almost twice what we move now.
The secretaries also said we will need to invest $1.8 trillion by 2020 just to bring our transportation infrastructure to an adequate level.
At the Press Club event Foxx attacked Congress for not acting on President’s four-year, $302 billion bill, which Obama has been promoting around the country between fundraising events. However, the failure to adopt a new program stems largely from policymakers’ inability to agree on how to fund it.
American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves also urged Congress act on a long-term plan. “Moving from one funding crisis to another will force states to cancel or delay even more crucial highway projects, putting jobs and the economy at risk.”
Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors President Leslie Blakey agreed with the secretaries that a multi-year program is overdue.
“Unfortunately, the U.S. has in recent years refused to make even the bottom line investments needed to maintain our transportation infrastructure, much less fund expansions of capacity,” she said.